Friday, January 11, 2013

Contests and Critiques!

Before the contest activities get any further along I wanted to talk about a couple things.

First of all, I know how scary and exciting entering these contests can be. I've been there.

I understand that you've spent hundreds of hours perfecting this manuscript that has become your beautiful baby. And that's exactly what it is. Your baby. You love it and even though you're feeling protective, you want to show it to everyone so they can love it, too!

This is not easy. What if they don't love it? What if it doesn't get chosen? What if this was all for nothing?

This is never for nothing!

I want you to know how great I think you all are! You've completed an entire manuscript (or maybe it's even your fifth baby) and now your here in search of finding an agent to love it!! What you've done is an amazing accomplishment! AND YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRAIL! You and your baby may or may not be ready for an agent, but regardless, you are here. Which means you're ready to learn. You're ready to put yourself out there.

And that says a lot!

Whether you get chosen by a Bouncer or an agent, I want you to have a great experience here. The things you'll learn about writing a query and first page just by reading a ton of them, will amaze you. You might not even realize you're learning, but trust me, you are. And then notice which ones the Bouncers/agents are choosing, and see if you can figure out why.

But! At the same time please remember how subjective this is. I know, I know. You just groaned and thought, "please tell me she didn't just use that nasty S-word." We can use another word if you want. Like chocolatey. Please remember how chocolaty this is. Did that hurt worse? Just make sure you substitute the meaning. :) It doesn't matter how sick of that word you are. IT'S TRUE!

I know from experience.

I used to enter contests similar to this. It was fun. I met people. And I learned a lot. I received first in some, and didn't receive even a single drop of love in others. In fact, I didn't even make it into one contest (yeah, I was totally bummed) with the same material that was gaining me over a 50% request rate from querying. And shortly after, I had my first offer and another soon after that.


So please remember that while there are some great things that can happen here, not getting chosen DOES NOT mean you and your baby aren't incredible. And going places. It could be soon. It could be much later. But you're working toward a goal that IS attainable.

So stay positive.

Have some fun.

Don't stress. (Okay, just not too much.)

Learn from everything.

And one of the best parts: Connect with some people who know exactly how you feel.

Maybe you'll gain some new beta readers, find some great manuscripts to read yourself, or connect with some new critique partners. These are all priceless things to leave with.

Which leads me to our next subject: Critiques.

Each entry in the Bouncer round will be posted on the blog and open to public critique. Don't be scared. It's okay. Deep, slow breaths.

I know that many of us go through a time when we send our work out into the dark scary world and think it's going to be received with nothing but rainbows, fluffy clouds, and gold coins.

This is not typically the case.

But that's a good thing! Because the chances our manuscripts are that perfect, is pretty slim. And critique is coming at ALL levels, so get ready.

My first advice would be to read the advice, then leave it. Think about it for awhile. Those immediate feelings of frustration and thoughts of "What?!? I do NOT agree with THAT!" will fade. Then come back and read it again. You might find that once those immediate reactions simmer, you can see what they're saying.

Of course, I DO NOT think you should take everyone's advice. There are some things that will not resonate with you, and it's okay if you don't change everything to try to make everyone happy.

This is impossible.

Trust me, in the last year here, I've learned just how impossible that is. No matter how hard you try. :)

But people are here to help. So listen to all the critique you receive and take some time to figure out what works for you and what doesn't.

This also pertains to those of you who have or will receive critiques from agents or other publishing professionals. Whether this is from a contest request, the conference, or the auction. Agents give critique because they want to help you. Even if they love your manuscript, they will still critique your work. This is what they do. And it's amazing, if you let it be. And remember to say "THANK YOU".

I received a critique from an agent after a contest win. At first, I was a little disappointed she didn't just love everything (ridiculous I know, but natural perhaps:) but her advice changed my writing for the better. No lie. No exaggeration.

And this continues as I progress further down the trail.

You will all have different experiences throughout the next several weeks of Blind Speed Dating, but I hope they will all be good. Just different types and levels of goodness.

And remember that's exactly why I do this. Because I remember how much fun I had during this phase and how much it helped to get me where I am.

Thanks for reading! You guys seriously rock more than you know!


  1. Wow! Incredibly insightful and helpful post. I really needed this mental adjustment. Thanks!

  2. You're the best Cupid! Thanks for everything you do!